Example of cord and rope

Cord vs. rope – what’s the difference?

Cords. Ropes. Strings. Twines. They’re all basically the same thing, right?

Not technically.

Yes, they do share a lot of similarities. They all have a long tube-like shape. They all come in a variety of lengths and diameters. They can all be made from the same type of materials (e.g. nylon, polyester, cotton, jute etc.). And, as a result, it can sometimes be difficult to tell them apart.

But there’s one important distinction between all of them – that is, their construction.

Here our resident experts explore this key difference. So, why not get to know your braided cords from your natural ropes and ensure you’re buying the right product for your needs?


Cords and paracords

Cords are, typically, made from six strands of fibre or more – and these strands are braided together in some way to create a tubular shape. There are three main ‘braided’ constructions, including:

  1. Single braid
  2. Double braid
  3. Kernmantle braid

Detailed information on these – and the differences between them – can be found in our previous blog: ‘Understanding braided rope constructions’. But essentially, single  braided cords are hollow and are made by weaving the strands of fibre into a diamond or lock-stitch pattern. Whereas double braided and kernmantle cords have a fibre core, that is protected by a braided outer sheath.

Cords are known for their inherent strength and durability. As such, they’re most commonly used for practical purposes – such as camping, hiking, sailing, fishing, climbing, exercise and bungee jumping. However, they can also be used for arts and craft projects and jewellery making.



Ropes are typically made from either three or four bundles of fibres. This is why they’re often referred to as 3-ply/strand or 4-ply/strand ropes. Rather than being braided into a hollow tube, these bundles are simply twisted around each other to create a long pipe-like shape.

Due to how they’re constructed, ropes are often much thicker than cords and paracords, with diameters ranging from 4mm up to 32mm and more. Their exact properties vary depending upon the material from which they’re made. But generally speaking, they’re used for a broad spectrum of functional and decorative applications – in domestic, commercial and industrial settings.


What about strings and twines?

These are the smallest of the bunch – softer and more supple than ropes and cords – and both tend to be used for just decorative and crafting purposes. But again, they differ in their construction.

Strings are simply made from several strands of fibre that are twisted (but not plied) together. By contrast, twine is essentially a thin rope. It’s typically composed of either two or three bundles of fibres that are plied together – and, as such, is often the stronger product out of the two.

A variety of cords available at Paracords Direct


Paracords Direct – a one-stop-shop for all cords

If it’s rope, string or twine that you require, you’ll need to head over to our sister site, Ropes Direct. There you’ll find an extensive range of these products, with something to all needs and preferences.

But as you’ve probably guessed – here at Paracords Direct – we’re all about the cords.

As a leading online supplier, we stock a broad spectrum of different products, including everything from nylon paracord, shock (bungee) cord and dyneema cord to those made from natural fibres, polyester, polypropylene, polyethylene and more. These come in a variety of colours, thicknesses, and lengths. So, whatever you have in mind, we’re bound to have the perfect product for you.

And remember, you’re always welcome to get in touch. Our team of experts are happy to help in any way they can. If you’d like further guidance on the difference between cords and ropes (and the best option for your intended application!), be sure to give us a call on 01692 668996. Alternatively, send an email to info@paracordsdirect.co.uk and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.


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